Egg

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: Yes (
  • Egg
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May cause allergic reactions.

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Three whole eggs before they have been prepared for a baby starting solid foods

When can babies eat eggs?

Eggs may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Egg is a common food allergen, so consider baby’s risk factors and start with scant quantities of well-cooked egg (white and yolk) as some babies can have severe reactions to even the smallest amount of eggs.

Need ideas for the best first foods for babies? See our guides, like the Top 15 First Solid Foods for Babies

Warning

When serving eggs to baby, ensure that all parts of the egg are fully cooked as eggs may contain Salmonella, a common bacterium which can result in foodborne illness in the intestinal tract, a risk offset by cooking eggs to 160° F (71°C), which may take slightly longer than you’re used to.1 2 3 Never use cracked or dirty eggs, which can increase the risk.4

Background and uses of eggs

Much more than just a staple in cuisines across the globe, the egg has come to symbolize fertility, potential, and new life and plays a role in holidays from Christian Easter to Iranian New Year. The information here focuses on eggs from chickens, although a number of other animals’ eggs are commonly eaten (such as duck eggs, quail eggs, goose eggs, and others). Eggs are highly nutritious—nature-made to fuel a potential chick’s growth—which can make them an excellent early food for babies.

Chickens lay eggs regardless of whether they have been fertilized, and many modern chickens have been selectively bred for high egg production throughout the year. That said, eggs used to be a seasonal food, with egg laying at its peak when daylight was longest—consequently, diverse ways of preserving eggs for the winter developed, including salting, pickling, and fermenting them. It’s worth mentioning that eggs and milk are often found in the same refrigerated section of grocery stores, and both are animal products that we eat, but eggs are not a form of dairy, so families avoiding dairy can still prepare and eat eggs.

The versatility of eggs is a marvel of kitchen chemistry. They can be hard-boiled, soft-boiled, poached, fried, and scrambled; in baking, they have a vital role in pie crusts, sweet breads, custards, souffles, meringues, and so much more. Because of their chemical composition, eggs also absorb other flavors and liquids well, as can be seen in the traditional Chinese snack chá yè dàn or “tea egg,” a hard-boiled egg that is then cracked and placed in a spiced tea mixture to steep. While many egg preparations are generally savory, sweet eggs are fine as a once-in-awhile food for children and are popular in some parts of the world. Khagineh, for example, is an omelet from Iran made with sugar, butter, and spices.

★Tip: Did you know raw eggs can be frozen if you take them out of the shell? If you find yourself with extra eggs and don’t want them to go to waste, here’s how to freeze raw egg.

Kalani, 7 months, eats an omelet and onions.
Río, 7 months, eats an omelet.
Adie, 15 months, eats a broccoli-cheddar omelet cut into pieces.

Are eggs healthy for babies?

Yes. Eggs are a terrific source of protein, with a complete amino acid profile (the building blocks of cells) and essential fats, including saturated fats, cholesterol, and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) to build cell walls, and support brain growth and vision.5 Eggs are also rich in other B vitamins and folate, as well as selenium, zinc, and iodine, plus a small amount of iron (minimal in comparison to meat). Finally, they are one of the best sources of choline, an important nutrient for brain and nervous system development.6

Egg yolks are one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which is vital for bone-building.7 Chickens raised outside will produce eggs with higher vitamin D levels as well as higher amounts of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids than eggs from their counterparts raised inside industrial coops.8 9

Purchasing eggs and deciphering food labels can be a dizzying process. Unfortunately, there is no perfect label to indicate the most ethically produced, environmentally friendly, and simultaneously most nutritious egg. Labels like “cage-free,” “free range,” “no antibiotics or hormones added” may sound like better options, but these terms often have loose definitions, and they don’t necessarily indicate that the eggs are more nutritious or produced more ethically.10 “Pasture raised” is not a distinction recognized by the USDA, so the term is used liberally, but can indicate that chickens regularly ate grasses and insects, which can pass on health benefits to their eggs.11 Other certifications such as Animal Welfare Approved or Certified Humane are meant to indicate certain standards in the treatment of chickens.

While they often cost more than conventional eggs, pasture-raised eggs are still typically a less expensive protein source when compared to other animal proteins like meat and chicken. Local pasture-raised eggs may be cheaper than those from big brands and buying eggs in bulk and freezing extras may also help you get the most out of your dollar. For an even more budget-friendly approach, you can opt for omega-3 enriched eggs (the chickens are fed an omega-3 rich diet, which makes the eggs higher in omega-3s as well.)12

★Tip: Wondering if your eggs are past their prime? Try the water test. Fill up a glass with water and drop the egg in. If it sinks, or stands up (but not floating), it’s safe to eat. If it floats to the top, throw it out!

Are eggs a common choking hazard?

No, though in theory an individual can choke on any food. To minimize the risk, serve eggs in thin, wide omelet strips, mash or quarter hard boiled eggs, and serve alongside a drink in an open cup. Eggs often stick to the tongue or roof of the mouth and cause a fair amount of gagging. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals.

For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are eggs a common food allergen?

Yes. Egg allergies are among the most common food allergies in babies with an estimated 2% of children allergic to eggs.13 The good news is that 70% of kids outgrow their egg allergy eventually.14 While the conventional wisdom was to wait on introducing eggs until around 2 years of age, we now know that there is no good reason to delay the introduction of egg into baby’s diet. In fact, there are studies showing that early and sustained exposure to eggs in infancy can help to prevent egg allergy altogether.15

If you are introducing eggs to baby for the first time, it’s recommended to start with a small portion of well-cooked egg and watch carefully for signs of allergy or sensitivity. If well-tolerated, you can offer additional egg at baby’s usual feeding pace. Interestingly, egg yolk is less allergenic than egg white, so if desired, you can consider introducing the yolk first.16 Regardless of how it is offered, allergists recommend maintaining common allergens in the diet at least 1 to 2 times a week once introduced.

Some babies can have severe reactions to even the smallest amount of egg. Allergic reactions may include fussiness, lethargy, watery eyes, hives, rashes, itching, facial swelling, wheezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and tummy cramps. If the reaction is mild, stop feeding the egg and contact your baby’s doctor for further guidance. If the reaction is severe and/or baby is having trouble breathing or seems unusually lethargic call emergency services immediately as baby may be experiencing anaphylactic shock. Don’t ever rely solely on the presence of a red rash to alert you to an allergic reaction, especially in babies with melanated skin—hives, rashes, and flushing may not be obvious in darker skin tones.

Lastly, a family history of food allergy is not typically a reason to defer egg introduction. However, if baby has severe eczema or another pre-existing food allergy, they may be at an increased risk of egg allergy. If this applies to your baby, reach out to your doctor before introducing egg, as they may suggest supervised egg introduction in the allergist’s office. If you believe your baby may be allergic to egg, make an appointment with a pediatric allergist. Many children with egg allergy can tolerate baked egg, and the allergist can help you determine if this would be an option for your baby.

Can babies eat hard-boiled eggs?

Yes, though hard-boiled eggs present more of a choking hazard and can be challenging for young babies to chew. While you can certainly offer sliced hard-boiled egg, other preparations like omelets and scrambled eggs fully integrate the yolk and white, making it more likely for babies to get that nutritious yolk into their bellies. If you do decide to offer hard-boiled eggs before 9 months old, try smashing them into an egg salad with a little breast/human milk or formula to integrate the yolk more fully and lower the choking risk.

Can babies and toddlers eat eggs every day?

Yes, though we wouldn’t recommend it. While it is perfectly healthy and safe for babies to eat eggs that frequently, serving the same food every day (eggs or otherwise)—even if it’s baby’s favorite food—can ultimately lead to tiring of the food and eventually, outright rejection of the food. For this reason and to help prevent picky eating, we recommend that unless this is the only food available, you focus on a wide variety of foods and refrain from serving any one food more than two or three times a week. It’s very common for babies and toddlers to reject formerly favored foods and often it can take years to get the food back into the diet.

Concerned about baby’s cholesterol intake? While early animal studies did show a relationship between cholesterol intake and higher cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, human studies have not shown the same results.17 In fact, dietary cholesterol does not appear to contribute to cardiovascular risk but rather benefits the human body in many ways.18

How do you introduce eggs to babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: The easiest way to introduce eggs for this age is via a well-cooked omelet cut into rectangular strips about the size of two adult fingers held together. This shape makes it easy for babies to pick up the eggs and eat independently. If baby is having a hard time picking up food from the table or highchair, try handing egg strips over in the air vertically.

9 to 12 months old: At this age, baby’s pincer grasp (where the thumb and pointer finger meet) is developing, enabling baby to pick up smaller pieces of food. As such, this is a great time to reduce the size to small, bite-size pieces of omelets, scrambled egg, or hard-boiled egg (mashing with breast/human milk or formula could work well here). If baby is struggling to pick up small pieces of food, it’s absolutely fine to continue to offer omelet strips, and of course, you can always mash eggs with milk, formula, or foods like avocado or yogurt for hand-scooping or pre-loaded utensils. Egg cups are also an excellent way to serve a nutritious breakfast that can be made ahead of time, frozen, and warmed. Offering an egg cup also allows baby to practice taking bites of a soft, easy to chew food.

12 to 24 months old: Explore a wide variety of egg preparations, cutting omelets and hard-boiled eggs into small pieces and continuing to make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked. This is a great time to work on forks, and little omelet squares can be great for utensil practice.

a row of omelet fingers - omelet cut in strips for babies starting solids
Omelet strips as prepared for a 6 month old baby.

Introducing common allergens to babies can be scary. We have a First 100 Days plan that walks you through exactly when to introduce each one with the right amount of time between them.

Recipe: Baby's First Eggs

an omelet cut into strips on a white background for 6 month old babies

Yield: 1 omelet (150 grams)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) olive oil

This recipe contains a common allergen: eggs. Only serve after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk well, adding a little water.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium with some olive oil and when it’s hot, pour the egg mixture in, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover.
  3. Cook the eggs as an open-face omelet for a few minutes and then, once the eggs are set and firm, fold them in half with a spatula and cook a bit longer until the inside of the omelet is completely done (to 160° F or 71°C). Let the omelet cool completely.
  4. Serve: Cut the omelet into strips about the size of two adult fingers held together. Place the strips on the tray or table in front of the baby for them to self-feed. If baby has trouble picking up the strips, offer one in the air for baby to grab.

To Store: Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container or tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Flavor Pairings

The taste of egg varies, depending on the lifestyle of the chicken that laid it, but generally, egg white has a mellow flavor with a hint of sulfur, and egg yolk has a slightly stronger, buttery taste. Eggs pair wonderfully with many things and absorb flavors and sauces readily. Cook eggs with cheese, onions, and leftover veggies, such as steamed broccoli or sautéed spinach, or with tomato, as in the dish called shakshuka. Eggs also present a great opportunity to introduce new spices to your baby’s palate, such as chives, parsley, thyme, or oregano.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI, Board-Certified Allergist and Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Salmonella and eggs. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
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  6. Lutter, C. K., Iannotti, L. L., & Stewart, C. P. (2018). The potential of a simple egg to improve maternal and child nutritionMaternal & child nutrition, 14 Suppl 3, e12678. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12678. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  7. Schmid, A., & Walther, B. (2013). Natural vitamin D content in animal productsAdvances in nutrition, 4(4), 453–462. DOI: 10.3945/an.113.003780. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
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  9. Guo, J., Lovegrove, J. A., & Givens, D. I. (2018). 25(OH)D3-enriched or fortified foods are more efficient at tackling inadequate vitamin D status than vitamin D3The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 77(3), 282–291. DOI: 10.1017/S0029665117004062. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  10. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shell egg labeling guidelines for product bearing the USDA grademark. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  11. Karsten, H., Patterson, P., Stout, R., & Crews, G. (2010). Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 25(1), 45-54. DOI:10.1017/S1742170509990214. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  12. Coorey, R., Novinda, A., Williams, H., & Jayasena, V. (2015). Omega-3 fatty acid profile of eggs from laying hens fed diets supplemented with chia, fish oil, and flaxseedJournal of food science, 80(1), S180–S187. DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.12735. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  13. Food Allergy Research & Education. (n.d.) Egg allergy. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  14. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (2019). Egg allergy. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  15. Perkin MR, Logan K, Tseng A, Raji B, Ayis S, Peacock J, Brough H, Marrs T, Radulovic S, Craven J, Flohr C, Lack G; EAT Study Team. (2016). Randomized Trial of Introduction of Allergenic Foods in Breast-Fed Infants. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(18):1733-43. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514210. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
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